Investigating the Process of a Craigslist / eBay / MoneyGram Vehicle Scam

There are a lot of steps in a Craigslist / eBay / MoneyGram fake escrow car & truck scam. I've tried to illustrate the entire transaction below.

This scam starts with a "cars & trucks for sale" ad on Craigslist. Scammers try hooking suckers with popular almost-new cars and desireable vintage models.

Unfortunately, I forgot to grab a screenshot of the original Craigslist ad, a 2007 Acura MDX selling for $4,750. Here, in its place is a different "too good to be true" ad, for a Mustang.

In addition to the super-low price, note that there is no phone number or license plates in the photographs. Also, the email address is in the body of the ad and it is a free email address such as,, or

If you write in, you get a long explanation about how perfect the car is and that it is unavailable for viewing before the sale. Also, eBay gets dragged into the scam, even though eBay and craigslist have nothing to do with one another. eBay does not offer escrow services outside of sales on eBay, and everything that has ever been sold on eBay has an item number.

My favorite bit of these is how many different ways they try to assure you that everything is protected and guaranteed and paid for by the seller. Really?, You are just volunteering to ship it to me from Republic, Missouri for free? The Dependable Auto Shipper site says that such a move will cost a minimum of $801.

I announce you that this isn't really eBay. It is a mock-up of a few pages of eBay hosted on Here is the first page, complete with photos and Nicole's phony ebay alias. Many of the eBay links don't work, but some do link to the real eBay. Again, the page is chock-full of purchase-protection guarantees.

this is a fake ebay sale

fake ebay page from craiglist scam

...and hilarious grammar.

this is a fake ebay page

Remember, you can buy whatever you want on Faux-eBay, so I bought this $4,750 SUV.

Clicking Commit to Buy brought me to this form with a rather impressive illustration.
The illustration and page described in detail how I was not going to get ripped off.

A moment later, I get a follow-up email from a second fake eBay (

A second email from stated that it was from eBay from a seller on Craigslist.

Just to mix it up, this email has an html attachment, which looks like an eBay invoice, assigning agent David Thayler to personally oversee the legitimate and lawful trade of cash for Acura.

To complete payment, you need to go with cash at the nearest Money Gram Agent location in your area and transfer the funds to our eBay Agent. The process only takes several minutes, it's easy to deal with and 100% secure.
Money Gram Money Transfer is the only service that has ultimate authentication of the identity of the receiver of funds. Several IDs and utility bills are required before the funds are paid. Therefore, no one else can pick up the money.

Now, you might think it is odd that this David Thaler character receives the payment in his own name and has his own home address on this eBay invoice. Don't worry. He doesn't really live there.

From this point, the story ends. Sending money to someone through MoneyGram is a one-way, untraceable event. MoneyGram is far from being "A service that has ultimate authentication of the identity of the receiver of funds".

To pick up money from a MoneyGram location, the recipient needs only one photo ID, such as a driver's license, a military ID or a passport, not "Several IDs and utility bills". A Social Security number is required when more than $3,000 is being picked up, but not an actual SS card.

Curiously, you can't send more than $499 to Arizona.

Tracking your Money Gram
You can register with MoneyGram Rewards to get an email alert indicating when they pick it up, but you won't know where they picked it up. Not even which state they were in.

They can not pick it up in a country other than the one you specify.

From the real MoneyGram site:
Is it safe to wire money to someone I don’t know?
Never send money to a stranger using a money transfer service. Our services have been occasionally used by fraud perpetrators to scam consumers. Protecting our customers is a priority at MoneyGram. Learn more about protecting yourself against fraud.

For further assistance, contact us at 1-800-MONEYGRAM.

Craigslist and eBay and MoneyGram are each, seperately, trying to protect people from being scammed by these guys. I am sure their efforts do save a lot of people from being scammed, but they could probably use some help.



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